04/12/2010, 00.00
BANGLADESH
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Dhaka: Christian and Muslim volunteers helping street kids

by William Gomes
A local priest and an Italian missionary start a project to help poor street kids by training locals, including street kids. Muslim woman says Brother Lucio, a PIME missionary, is a “model for my daughter”. Catholic teacher says that working for the children is like “loving Christ”.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Fr Pradeep Perez, SJ, and Br Lucio Beninati, a missionary from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) with ten years of experience in Bangladesh, trained a group of volunteers to work with street kids. Last Friday, they organised a session for some 70 people took part, both Christian and Muslim.

“These people are doing a great job for us,” said a Muslim mother, who attended the event with her daughter. Brother Lucio “has become a model”. For this reason and despite the difference in religion, “I let my daughter Nowsin work with street kids. She “has learnt to love the poor and work with them and her life has changed.”

“For the first time two years ago, I heard Brother Lucio call for volunteers in his project,” said Bridget Corrya, a Catholic teacher. Because children are without a home or food, “working for them is a way to love and serve Christ.”

Another young Catholic woman, Calot Gain, said she felt firsthand the misfortune of poverty. She began to work with street children in 2007, and thanks to her training “learnt how to approach them.”

Among the participants, there are also two young Muslim boys, who for a long time lived in the streets, left on their own. Their existence changed, they said, when they met the Christians and the ‘bahi’ or brother. Indeed, for them Br Lucio has become a ‘big brother’ who helped them leave behind a life of drugs and crime.

Mohammed Rasel, 12, remembers when “I had no place to sleep and no one love me.” Now he lives in contact with the volunteers, and is learning a trade. “I want to help poor children living in the streets,” he said.

“My life has changed,” said Mohammed Sojib, 13. Now “I want to be the one who changes the lives of other children.” Speaking about Father Lucio, he said, “He came to help me like Allah. Others just looked and laughed at me, but ‘Bahi’ took me in his arms and gave me love. ”

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